|[the great man, about age 31]|
Friedrich Nietzsche is certainly one of the most famous atheists in history, coining the phrase "God is dead".
He is also known to have been one of the great inspirations of the Nazi Party, which was founded twenty years after his death. The Nazi philosopher Alfred Baeumler loved Nietzsche. Hitler personally attended the funeral of Nietzsche's sister in 1935. Supposedly, a copy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra was given to every German soldier in the Nazi era and it was revered as a bible by the Hitler Youth. (This did not begin with the Nazis, actually. During World War I, German soldiers received complimentary copies of Nietzsche.)
What would Nietzsche himself have thought of the Nazis? Probably not much. He was not an anti-Semite or a German nationalist.
So what was it which drew the Nazis to him?
Seemingly, the answer is the following.
Nietzsche believed that the strongest desire of all life is the will to power - the striving to reach the highest possible position in life. This would imply, among other things, that a man can only find happiness and satisfaction in life by dominating others. Nietzsche provided a profound philosophical foundation for the rejection of Judeo-Christian altruism and the embrace of violence and cruelty.
According to Nietzsche, the will to power is the most fundimental human need, superceding survival, reproduction or anything else. Based upon this, it is easy to understand why fanatic Nazis gladly chose death in battle rather than surrender.
The core of Nietzsche's teachings formed the core of Hitler's teachings. Although still debated by scholars, Nietzsche, the atheist, may have been to Fascism what Marx, the atheist, was to Communism.
From this we see that there is no limit to the evil which may be spawned by the Godless mind.
Nietzsche never married nor fathered children. He became demented at age 44. The dementia became progressively severe until his death at age 55.